Knights’ D finds puck luck in 5-2 win

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It must have been the pucks.

After only a week of use, the NHL abandoned its puck with a tracking chip inside it after players complained they were bouncing too much. The change was welcomed by the Vegas Golden Knights, who got their defense involved early and often in defeating the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena in what was the second of a four-game, home-and-home series between the two West Division clubs.

The scene shifts to Glendale for games Friday and Sunday.

Shea Theodore scored twice and Alex Pietrangelo notched his first goal as a Golden Knight as the pucks stayed flat for the gold-clad Knights, who have started 4-0 for the first time in their brief four-year history.

Vegas also finally scored on the power play as Alex Tuch delivered in the third period. The team was 0-for-10 prior to Tuch’s scoring on a nice play where he won the battle along the boards, skated in and beat Darcy Kuemper.

“I thought our game was better overall than the night before,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “Four wins to start is nice.”

DeBoer was also glad to see his defensemen contribute offensively.

“It’s a big part of our offense,” he said. “We’re asking those guys to get up in the rush and play in the offensive zone. We have a group back there who can really add to or game. It’s a big part of how we’re going to create offense and those two guys (Theodore and Pietrangelo) are obviously a big part of that.”

The Vegas defense had been held goal-less the first three games. Maybe it was the tracking puck. Or maybe it was just a lack of puck luck. Either way, Theodore took care of that with goals in the first and third period. 

“I think that was something we noticed the last couple of games,” said Theodore, who registered the third multiple-goal game of his career. “It wasn’t as bouncy tonight as the last few games.”

Pietrangelo said: “Hopefully the league fixes the issue because I think the tracking is good for the fans.”
 
Unlike the previous two games where the Knights had to rally to win, they played from in front all game Wednesday as Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced get the win, the 468th of his career. The Coyotes allowed Vegas to transition with little resistance and they gave up several odd-man rushes. Coach Rick Tocchet has plenty of things to adjust heading into Friday.

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Not so much for DeBoer, though the power play is far from being where it needs to be. The Knights had a 5-on-3 advantage for a full minute in the third period and even called time out to set things up. But they failed to add to their lead.

Overall, Vegas is now 1-for-14 on the season with the man advantage. That needs to improve. But the Knights have held serve at home and lead the division as they head out on the road for the first time this season.

“It was a great start, said captain Mark Stone, who scored his second of the year and had an assist to give him seven points, which leads the NHL. “We had to ease into it a bit the first three games. Tonight was our best so far.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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